Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went downtown,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

—Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is one of my favorite poems (although, of course, I have a lot of favorite poems). Robinson handles the irony so sharply when he hits you with that final couplet.

    • Hi April!

      I was leafing through an anthology when I ran across this old favorite. I learned it as a boy, but it still strikes a chord with me, and it certainly puts envy in perspective. Emerson had this line that fairly laid it to rest as well: There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance.

      I don’t know how I reached the conclusion, but for years I though Robinson was a black man. 🙂

      Question: Do the audio links work properly for you? I discovered that they were very “iffy” for some. I had to go to an embedded player that sort of screws up the aesthetics, but it should at least be reliable.

  2. I confess I haven’t tried the audio links yet. I shall do so and report back. 🙂


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